Method ancestrale – also known as méthode rurale – is the oldest method to make sparkling wine.
What is it and how is it different from other methods?
The most obvious difference is that the method ancestrale does not involve a second fermentation. The first fermentation is stopped before all sugar has been converted into alcohol by cooling the wine to 0°. After a few months, the wine is bottled and the fermentation continues in the bottle and gives off CO2.
The end result is a bit sweeter and less fizzy than a traditional method sparkling wine. Adding extra sugar (dosage) is not allowed.
Where is it used?
The method is still used today, predominantly in the south of France, including Limoux (Languedoc-Roussillon), Die (Rhone), Gaillac (southwest France) en Bugey in Savoie.
Clairette de Die uses a similar but slightly different method, called method dioise ancestrale. The main difference between the two is that the method dioise ancestrale empties the wines into a pressurized tank and filters instead of riddling and disgorging.
Methode dioise ancestrale (quoted from The Oxford Companion to Wine):
- The base wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks at very low temperatures over several months.
- The wine is then filtered to remove most but not all of the yeast, bottled, and fermentation continues in bottle until an alcoholic strength of between 7 and 8.5% has been reached.
- The wine is disgorged six to 12 months after bottling (the minimum time on lees is four months) before being filtered again and immediately transferred to new bottles.
- The use of liqueur de tirage and liqueur d’éxpedition is both prohibited and unnecessary.
Sources & suggested readings:
Jancis Robinson – The Oxford Companion to Wine
Tom Stevenson & Essi Avalan – The World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wines
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